Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Music Composition

Committee Chair

Wolek, Krzysztof

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Satterwhite, Marc

Committee Member

Speck, Fred


STARS is a work for full orchestra depicting four of the known stars in our galaxy. Each movement is a character piece musically illustrating a particular star by a separate pitch collection: the first movement, Sol, depicts our very own sun rising in the morning sky, blooming slowly from the lowest register to the highest, and uses elements of the pentatonic pitch collection to do so. The second movement, Sirius, shows the fun, playful, and unpredictable side of the titular dog star, also the brightest star in our night sky. Here, a version of the diatonic set that freely and frequently switches between major and minor is used to keep the listener on their toes. Next, the whole tone scale and a half step-minor third hexatonic scale combine to paint a picture of sailing on the ocean at night, guided by the north star Polaris. Finally, we come to VY Canis Majoris, a star so terrifyingly huge the only way I could think to depict it accurately was by having the orchestra play fortissimo for the duration of the short final movement. A jarring octatonic cluster moves and transforms throughout the movement, evoking images of the shifting blood red surface of this star which is so large that, were it in our own solar system, its outer edge would reach past Saturn. Each movement's pitch collection is also represented in certain structural considerations of the movement itself and of the work as a whole, as well as in a distinct half-step motive common to all movements, transforming as it moves through this journey among the stars.

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